Lavar Ball

Rob's Rants — LaVar Ball's slippery slope

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Rob's Rants — LaVar Ball's slippery slope

Here's the latest edition of Rob's Rants in which NBC Sports Philadelphia's Rob Ellis does just that about the hottest topics in Philly sports.

Big blowhard brand
In news that ranks right behind the sun rising in the East and the Cleveland Browns stinking, LaVar Ball is once again popping off. The latest episode surrounding the carnival barker/helicopter dad comes from his comments to ESPN regarding his son Lonzo's coach, Luke Walton. 

"You can see they're not playing for Luke no more," LaVar said. "Luke doesn't have control of the team no more. They don't want to play for him." 

At this point, you would just chalk this up to a guy begging for attention and who doesn't care in the least that said attention does nothing but make life more difficult for his rookie son. The same father who in the last year has also pulled his 16-year-old out of high school because he didn't like the coach and removed his freshman son in college because his school had the audacity to suspend his son for allegedly shop-lifting in a foreign country.

But Ball's latest diarrhea of the mouth has brought about a very interesting reaction from some of Walton's fellow NBA coaches. Namely Rick Carlisle, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Kerr. Carlisle, also president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, and Van Gundy were highly critical of ESPN for writing the story and giving Ball the platform to say what he said. They went as far as threatening non-cooperation with the network when it comes to access, interviews, etc.

This is a slippery slope. Networks, including this one, pay big bucks for the rights to broadcast games. The players and coaches are paid handsomely, in part because of those deals. So there is a partnership. But that pact does not give the coaches or the owners or the leagues the right to tell networks what stories they can or cannot do. You may disagree with Ball, you may be sick of him and the whole circus that follows him, you may hate the TMZ-ization of sports, and I would agree with you. But the reality is, sports are covered differently in 2018 than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Gone are the days of highlight, postgame soundbite, next highlight. For better or worse, debate, controversy, salaciousness sells. 

The leagues do not have the right to dictate content. And Ball has every right to his opinion, even if it is stale and not in the best interest of his kid.

No flow
Let me get this straight, the Flyers and the entire Metropolitan Division have a mandated bye this week? The orange and black last played Sunday and won't play again until Saturday. Keep in mind, the NHL all-star break is coming up later this month and they are off again for five days? The Flyers finally appear to be gaining some consistency, having won three in a row and four of their last five and they're being shut down for six days. Awesome.

The Sixers last played Friday and next play Thursday in London. Granted this is not your typical flight or travel game — the Sixers are considered the home team — but six days in between? Then they don't play again until Tuesday. Two games in the span of nine days in January?   

Timing is everything
Monday night's national championship game between Alabama and Georgia lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. It ended at 12:10 a.m. I know the argument about the West Coast and splitting your audience when it comes to start times, but Alabama's overtime win over Georgia was a classic and it's a shame that most kids and folks who have to get up early for work missed it.

LaVar Ball was pretty darn fun in Philadelphia

LaVar Ball was pretty darn fun in Philadelphia

LaVar Ball was in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Yep, you guessed it — pure entertainment.

Ball visited the Wells Fargo Center to take in the Sixers-Lakers game. His son, Lonzo, delivered the game-winning assist in the final seconds of the Lakers' 107-104 decision over the Sixers.

Postgame was fun, to say the least, and the theatrics all started before the final buzzer actually sounded. The show commenced when Ball was spotted in his suite waving his arms and riling up fans.

Then he was found afterward in the bowels of the arena.

That was when everything happened. From talking about his feud with President Trump, to meeting Joel Embiid, to discussing cheesesteaks, to calling himself a genius, and to actually complimenting Philadelphia, Ball was his typical boisterous and jubilant self.

"People expect me to be in Philly talking about, 'I don't like Philly, I told you we were gonna beat them,'" Ball said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Casey Feeney. "I don't got to say all that, they all good people.

"So far, Philly has got the best hospitality we've been around, but we've been to Phoenix, too, they were good."

To recap Ball's night, watch the video above and take everything in below.

Enjoy …

Joel Embiid 'a big fan' of Lakers' Lonzo Ball

Joel Embiid 'a big fan' of Lakers' Lonzo Ball

LOS ANGELES — Could the Sixers' first matchup against Lonzo Ball and Lakers on Wednesday be drama-free after Joel Embiid’s summer of banter with LaVar Ball?

Seems that way.

“I don’t know him personally but I don’t have anything against him,” Embiid said Tuesday of Lonzo Ball. “I said I love what he’s doing, especially with his own shoe.” 

Embiid’s request on draft night has not been forgotten. His tweet asking Ben Simmons to “please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him” has been retweeted over 52,000 times since June 22. The back and forth between Embiid and Lonzo's father, LaVar, through various media platforms became a major offseason storyline. 

Simmons tweeted “crazy pills” after the senior Ball reacted to his son being drafted by the Lakers and vowed a (seemingly improbable) playoff appearance this season. 

LaVar Ball then took a jab at the Sixers’ record and Embiid’s lack of playing time on 97.5 The Fanatic by saying, “If you don't win and don't even make the playoffs and don't even stay on the court long enough, that's the best thing you can do is tweet.” 

There are two things close to Embiid — his minutes and his social media. 

“F--- LaVar Ball,” Embiid said in a Fourth of July video. He was fined by the NBA. 

But Lonzo Ball is his own player. He’s stayed out of the exchanges and earned the respect of Embiid through his early play. Even though Ball isn’t posting team-leading numbers, he is fulfilling his role as a floor leader. Ball is averaging 9.5 points (31.3 percent shooting from the field, 25.0 percent from three-point range), 7.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds in 33.1 minutes. 

“He’s a great point guard,” Embiid said. “He’s been struggling a little bit shooting the ball but he’s only played like 10, 15 games in the league. It’s all going to come together. But I’m a big fan. He’s a willing passer, especially as a point guard. Having that type of point guard that’s always willing to set guys up is always good.” 

Simmons could get a closer look at Ball in the backcourt. He said he hasn’t watched a lot of him early in the season but they both have strong court vision and are unselfish with the ball. 

“I know he can pass,” Simmons said. “He’s a pretty good player. He can play. He sees the game well, he reads it well, he’s a good player.”

So will this game end up being a quiet battle between two young teams or will commentary ensue?

Stay tuned.